There have been some ups and downs along the way but Serena Williams ended the 2014 season as she had begun it – with her standing as the best player in the modern women’s game unchallenged.
Williams’ 6-3, 6-0 victory over Simona Halep at the WTA Finals in Singapore gave the 33-year-old American her third successive triumph at the year-end championships and reinforced her position at the top of the world rankings.
Williams, who had beaten Caroline Wozniacki in a gruelling three-set semi-final only 24 hours earlier, won her seventh title of the year and the 64th of her career with a performance full of power and authority. With five year-end titles to her name, she has equalled Steffi Graf’s tally. Only Martina Navratilova, with eight, has won more.
Just four days previously Williams had suffered her heaviest defeat for 16 years when Halep beat her for the loss of just two games in the group stage of the tournament. On this occasion, however, Williams played a more attacking game, going after Halep’s second serve in particular and regularly moving into the net.
Earlier this month, Williams retired mid-match at the Wuhan Open and withdrew from the China Open in Beijing, having suffered a knee injury. “I just started training, because I had such a bad knee in Beijing I didn’t know if I’d be able to play here,” Williams said.
“I had to play more Serena-style tennis [today] and just do what I do best. I was expecting a much better player than I was in the earlier round. Being ready for that really was able to help me out.”
Halep admitted that her lack of experience had been a factor in the match.
“I was nervous before the match that I had to play this big final,” the Romanian said. “I couldn’t manage the situation very well. I knew that she would be more motivated during this match because we played a few days ago and I won.”